Tonga

Bolstering ‘REACH Tonga’ to deliver crucial services to its citizens

Suva, Fiji – Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for COVID-19 and disaster supplies have been shipped to Tonga by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) through the Rights, Empowerment and Cohesion (REACH) for Rural and Urban Fijians & Tongans Project. A Fiji Airways cargo plane chartered by the United Nations (UN) departed Fiji’s Nadi International Airport on Saturday 5 March 2022 carrying the equipment and supplies amongst other goods. The REACH project, an integrated mobile service delivery platform, is implemented by UNDP and funded by Japan.

The equipment and supplies worth over US$17 thousands will enable the ‘REACH Tonga’ led by Tongan Ministry of Internal Affairs to coordinate and implement the service delivery operation despite the various challenges caused by the recent volcanic eruptions and Tsunami as well as the COVID-19 community transmissions. The support provided to the ‘REACH Tonga’ will facilitate the government agencies and civil society organizations (CSOs) to efficiently deliver public services crucial to the COVID-19 response and recovery of citizens and communities.

The integrated service delivery platform in Fiji and Tonga, known as the REACH Project, was launched in September 2021 with funding support provided by the Government of Japan. The Project, as a revamped phase of the initial initiative developed since 2015, aims to scale up the REACH platform to assist the government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and support citizens affected in various ways by the response measures including border closure and a halt in international tourism.

His Excellency Mr. MUNENAGA Kensaku, Ambassador of Japan to Tonga, said, “Although the situation in Tonga has significantly changed by the disaster in January and outbreak of COVID-19 in February, I would say the importance of REACH project is further increased. I am very pleased to be able to support Tongan people to get necessary access to essential public services under the current difficulties which we must overcome”

“This time, we provide necessary equipment for our REACH Tonga team to address their logistical challenges on the ground under the current double whammy so that they could resume the operations safely and efficiently. I hope their activities will be well regarded and welcome by Tongan people,” added His Excellency Mr Munenaga.

The PPE procured by UNDP included COVID-19 effective masks, gloves and other protective and hygiene items. The emergency supplies included power banks, batteries, dry bags, reef shoes, life jackets and more.

Ms Yemesrach Workie, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Officer-in-Charge said that UNDP was grateful for the partnership developed through the REACH project which allowed UNDP to efficiently coordinate and assist the Tongan Government in a timely manner.

“The REACH Project assists government agencies and CSOs to raise awareness of citizens’ constitutional rights and provide services at their doorstep. It aims to reach the furthest behind first as pledged through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Ms Workie.

While strengthening its support to Tonga, the REACH operation in Fiji has been actively delivering services to the communities most affected by and vulnerable to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation which have further been challenged by cyclones and flooding hitting communities more frequently and intensely.

For media queries, please contact:

Siaosi Fakaosi, UNDP Tonga Outreach Coordination Officer, Email: siaosi.fakaosi@undp.org; Phone: +676 876 4331 / 770 5064

Tomoko Kashiwazaki, UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji, email: tomoko.kashiwazaki@undp.org, Phone: +679 715 8051